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This year’s Stoke-on-Trent Young Musician 2022 winners

Published: Thursday, 24th March 2022

This year’s Stoke-on-Trent Young Musician 2022 winners were crowned on Friday 18 March during a captivating live final.

Organised by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council run City Music Service, the competition was split into two categories – junior, up to and including year eight and senior, year nine upwards. There were 12 classes - six junior and six senior – and 70 entrants from a range of schools across the city. For each, the categories were piano, strings (orchestral), woodwind (orchestral and band), brass, open (percussion, keyboard, guitar, recorder, and other instruments) and voice.

In what was a close final, the Junior title went to Ben Foxcroft on the bass guitar, from Ormiston Sir Stanley Matthew’s Academy and Tharuk Sanhiru Panadura-Acharige, from St Joseph’s College claimed the Senior Young Musician 2022 title for his performance on piano.

Senior Young Musician winner, Tharuk Sanhiru Panadura-Acharige, who has competed in the finals before says that this was the best experience he has had yet in a final and it has made him even more ambitious. He said: “I felt really happy when I found out I won, and I also felt happy as all mine and my parents’ efforts over the past ten years blossomed on the day. I have entered this competition for the past five years and this year’s final was the best final I have been in. Everyone showed what they had in terms of musical abilities and spoke to the audience while performing. I am looking forward next year to more music making at an even higher standard.”

He added: “Being the Junior Musician of the Year in 2020 and the Senior Musician this year makes me feel that I am an elite winner.. Therefore, I would like to thank my first piano teacher Dr. Nellinne Ranaweera, my current piano teacher Mr Benny Hui and all staff in The Royal Northern College on Music (RNCM) for all their support. I also would like to thank St Joseph’s College and all the staff at the Stoke-on-Trent City Music Service for giving me the opportunities to show my capability and to get to my present musical status, which I admire greatly.”

Ben Foxcroft, Junior Young Musician winner for the past two years, said: “I'm thrilled to have attained such a wonderful achievement for a second time, particularly after hearing all of the excellent competition. It was very close and I am looking forward to the challenges that await me next year as I progress to the Senior Class.”

Preliminary rounds took place back in January and following the easing of pandemic restrictions this year entrants were able to showcase their performances in a face-to-face setting.

Councillor Janine Bridges, cabinet member for the economy and education at Stoke-on-Trent City Council said: “Stoke-on-Trent City Music Service gives children a chance to see whether playing a musical instrument is something they would like to pursue in the future and to find out if it’s something they enjoy doing. It also helps to build confidence and to develop a creative outlet in children, which they might otherwise not have had the chance to develop.

“I am happy that we are continuing as a council to put on events such as these to showcase their talents and abilities. As a city we should be proud of all our talented musicians.

“This event is the first in a series of live music performances this month for pupils in the city, there will also be two other events staged at Victoria Hall including the Recorder Festival, which will feature 39 schools and 1000 pupils across the region, as well an event to celebrate the Jubilee, which we hope people will come to see.”

The City Music Service were delighted to host this event and want to congratulate all of the musicians who took part.

Tickets for the Recorder Festival on 29 and 30 March and the Jubilee celebration event can be purchased at or by phone 01782 213800. The event will also feature performances from last year’s Young Musician competition winners.